President Donald Trump is mining for latent White racism like those miners, he claims to support, mine for coal. When someone is in a position of power, that individual attempts to appear to that which is located within him or her. Donald Trump is full of racist hatred and bigoted venom. It oozes from his pores and informs his physiognomy. If someone were to program the new iPhone X’s facial recognition feature to unlock by recognizing the face of racists, Trump’s countenance would, without doubt, unlock a million iPhones. When neo-Nazis, White Nationalists, and Klu Klux Klan members marched in Charlottesville, Virginia, Donald Trump referred to members in their midst as “good people.” A woman was killed by an alleged White supremacist during that particular rally. When a few Black NFL players quietly take a knee during the playing of the National Anthem, Donald Trump says that the “S.O.B’s” should be fired and run off the field of play.
Many people of different racial and ethnic persuasions agree that America has a race problem. Some take it one step further and say that America is a racist country. I have always been fascinated by the claim that America is a racist nation because there is no one who will admit to being a racist. President Trump will never admit to being a racist. However, as I once heard Dan Rather say, “If it walks like a duck…”
Documentaries are not in short supply addressing American racism. There are documentaries focused on Latinos and racism. A national newspaper addressed Asians and racism. Black people and racism is not without documentation also. A common factor of concern among all these different groups is the behavior of White people. Latinos talk about White behavior. Asians talk about White behavior. The pivotal point of race discussions in the United States resides in the Black community. Yes, these groups also talk about ethnic friction among themselves. Their prejudices that exhibited between Black and Latinos, Asians and Latinos, as well Asians and Blacks. Yet when the discussion is focused on racism, the discussion points directly to White people. This is not to say that all White people are racist, but it is to say that all racists are White. The type racism that is prevalent in America today was invented in America during the era of the enslavement. Racism essentially came to mean the behavior of those understood to be White toward those who were understood to be Black.
The election of the nation’s first Black President seem to signal a turning point in race relations in the United States. The deceptive part of the Obama victory was the understanding that his victory was based on a coalition of support from African Americans, Asians, Latinos, and a White minority. What is sometimes lost is the fact that a majority of Whites voted against Barack Obama. It was not long after Obama took the Oath of Office that we began to experience the racial backlash the first Black President. Ironically, leading this ugly racial episode was none other than Donald Trump. The blatant racism was couched in terms of presidential legitimacy and fights against socialized healthcare. The Birthers and the Tea Party came to be the political embodiment of racism in America.
Donald Trump ran for President and won in 2016. That White majority that voted against Obama in 2008 and 2012 found its hope in Donald Trump. A majority of Whites across the spectrum voted for Trump. The most glaring of all was the fact that a clear majority of White women voted for Donald Trump. What the Obama elections and Trump election tell us is that America’s White majority harbors either overt or latent racist tendencies that preclude Whites from being inclusive or empathetic to racial concerns.
As stated above, many see America as a racist nation; however, no one identifies as a racist. There is even a book entitled Racism without Racists. Lincoln abhorred African enslavement. On the other hand, he believed Whites were superior to Blacks. Contemporary supporters of the Confederate Flag argue that they are fighting to preserve their heritage. It is this capacity of Whites to confuse racism with heritage into which the current President is determined to tap as a resource to sustain his presidency.
Anthony Neal earned his Ph.D. in political science from Atlanta University (now Clark Atlanta University). Dr. Neal is an associate professor at State University College, Buffalo. The author of numerous book reviews and journal articles, he has had his work published in the Western Journal of Black Studies, the Journal of Black Studies, and Black Issues in Higher Education. In 2014 Dr. Neal received the university’s Faculty Appreciation Award, was named Instructor of the Year by the university’s United Student Government, and Professor of the Year by the Student Political Society in the Department of Political Science. In 2015, he published The American Political Narrative which is a succinct yet poignant narrative about the development of the American political system and what is needed to maintain it. In 2016, he will publish a book of poetry entitled “Love Agnostic | from 9/11 to Charleston”
Photo Credit: (Evan Vucci/AP)